Mahindra Aerospace aims to start manufacturing eight-seater aircraft at its new plant near Bangalore in the next two years. In doing so, it should become the first private player to build civilian aircraft in the country, and the second after public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

“We want to move from being global consumers to global producers,” said Anand Mahindra, Chairman of the Group, while inaugurating the aero-structures manufacturing facility here. “Through our utility aircraft, we will get into areas where no one has reached yet.”

The new plant is spread over 25,000 sq m and will supply parts for aircraft structures as well as other components.

This is Mahindra Aerospace’s second aircraft manufacturing facility. It already has such a facility for utility aircraft in Australia.

The Indian facility was made possible after the company acquired Aerostaff and GippsAero in Australia.

Small aircraft

This facility will manufacture 8-seater GA8 aircraft, while the 10-seater GA10 will enter the market next year.

Currently, there are around 250 GA8 aircraft flying all over the world. The company is also working on an 18-seater aircraft.

The single-engine turbo-prop aircraft that Mahindra proposes to manufacture will have a range of over 1,100 km and is likely to open up air connectivity between various small towns and cities.

The company feels that such a product would help domestic tourists, who spend a lot of time on the road or on trains to get to a destination. Asked when the company would begin manufacturing small aircraft in India, Hemant Luthra, President, Mahindra Systech, said: “Within two years, we will have a full-fledged 8-seater aircraft being manufactured in India.”

Mahindra Systech takes care of the group’s aero service business.

The Bangalore facility has been set up in technical collaboration with Spanish company, Aeronova, which specialises in the design and manufacture of major airframe assemblies.

The first customer will be the manufacturing facility in Australia.

Big Ambitions

The plant will also look to supply spares to aircraft giants Airbus and Boeing. Luthra said that a Request for Qualification, to supply parts has already been made.

The plant has been set up at a total cost of Rs 150 crore and has the capacity to deliver about Rs 250 crore of annual revenue. It will provide employment to about 400 people.

Though HAL manufactures aircraft, these are only trainers, while big, small or very small passenger aircraft are all imported.

Currently, India imports big aircraft from Airbus and Boeing, and depends on Embraer and Bombardier for 70- and 80-seater aircraft. Small turbo-prop aircraft are supplied by various global manufacturers.

shishir.s@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on October 21, 2013)
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